Behind the gray exterior of a 100-year-old former-church in San Francisco’s Mission district is The Assembly, a social club centered around wellness. Molly Goodson and her co-founder Carnet Williams had been looking for a smaller space to start The Assembly, but when they found the empty church, they knew it had the special something they were looking for.
While Molly’s passion for fitness and search for a good place to work were the inspirations for The Assembly, Molly describes The Assembly a hybrid space “because it’s about all these different passions coming together. We’re not only one thing. One of the most frequent questions I get is “Who is the woman?” and it’s certainly not just one type which is fantastic.”
This wasn’t surprising to Molly, because she had seen the same phenomena during her tenure at PopSugar. She says, “There are a lot of places that are for women but they are categorized. Either you are into this or you’re into that. Either you are fashion person, or you are politics person, or you are a beauty person. In reality, we would see the same person bouncing between all of the sites.”
During the day The Assembly is filled with entrepreneurs in a variety of fields, freelance writers, and others with independent work schedules. About half of the membership, however, work 9-5 jobs in offices and joined for access to the fitness classes and other events. Molly explains, “The fitness is what brings them in or the work is what brings them in, but you peel back one layer and the community is what they are searching for.”
With the goal to “make it feel like an oasis, like you are really stepping out of the city and having this getaway, take-care-of-yourself moment,” Molly and Carnet brought in Sara and Rich Combs (of The Joshua Tree House) to help with interior design. Their landlord had restored the building but also made aesthetic choices that differed from The Assembly’s founders vision. The team removed the carpet from the main space and painted the floor, walls, and ceiling a bright white They also replace dark-blue plexiglass windows “that let in no light” and painted the formerly red ceilings fans so they would blend into the space.
Simplifying the space really allowed the original details, like the stained glass in the stairwell and second floor entry to shine. The team created two large spaces – one for working/ socializing and one for exercise classes. The main room is designed to be like “many different living rooms” and also hosts a coffee bar for those looking for a break. It, as well as several smaller meeting rooms, is filled with hundreds of individually selected kilim pillows. Throughout the entire space, new artwork by female artists and makers coexist with traces of the building’s past.
Take a tour in the slideshow!